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Elton John’s epic ‘Aida’ casts a soaring refrain of love without borders in Music Division production Feb. 15-25

Warring nations come together and forbidden love faces its ultimate challenge in Elton John and Tim Rice’s “Aida,” the Tony and Grammy award-winning musical that comes to JU’s Swisher Theater Feb. 15-25.

The tale of a bond between an Egyptian prince and a slave transcends borders and has become known since its 2000 Broadway debut for its soaring ballads, rousing rock and choral numbers, and exuberant dancing. True devotion transcends cultural differences in this story of loyalty and betrayal in a love triangle involving Aida, an enslaved Nubian princess stolen from her country; Amneris, an Egyptian princess; and Radames, the soldier they both love.

A recent rehearsal for Aida.

“Aida is a modern crowd pleaser that embraces multicultural casting and exuberant dancing, staging and singing for a large cast. It even involves some time travel from the present back to 1100 BC,” said Director and acclaimed soprano Kimberly Beasley, Associate Professor of Voice in the College of Fine ArtsMusic Division.

Beasley has double-cast the show, with one cast of mostly seniors and the other made up of “very talented juniors.” All levels of students are cast in secondary roles and in the ensemble. Meanwhile, the orchestra pit features 13 musicians led by Music Director Ben Beck, a staff accompanist at JU, and choreography is by Victoria Miller ‘17.

“This is a dance- and music-heavy show, so it has lots of show-stopping numbers,” Beasley said. “The music is a balance of upbeat rock numbers as well as some beautiful, lyrical pieces. Our singers belt and sing legit in this show.”

The production has been entered for a review by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, a national theater program involving thousands of students from more than 700 colleges and universities whose aim is to boost the quality of college theater in the United States.

Aida has music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice. It won four Tony Awards, including Best Original Score and Best Performance by a Leading Actress. The Original Broadway Cast Recording won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. The song “Written in the Stars.” recorded by Elton John and LeAnn Rimes, reached No. 2 on the Billboard U.S. adult contemporary music charts,

“The story is captivating, and we have spent most of January delving into the dramatic elements. The students do extensive dramaturgy to prepare their roles,” Beasley said.

Aida will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15, 17 and 23, and at 3 p.m. Feb. 25, in Swisher Theater at Jacksonville University, 2800 University Blvd. N., Jacksonville, 32211. Tickets are Adults: $10, Seniors (62 and older): $5, Military: $5, Students: $5, Children under 17: $5, and JU: Free (per ID). They can be purchased and reserved at jutickets.com. For more information, email kbeasle@ju.edu or call (904) 256-7370.